Anxiety and Depression in Children: A Test of the Positive-Negative Affect Model

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Objective: To examine whether the two-factor model of affect presented by Watson and colleagues is applicable to school children. Method: A child self-report scale of symptoms of depression and anxiety was administered to 624 school children in the third and sixth grades. Factor analyses were applied to extract factors of positive and negative affect. Reliabilities, correlations, and longitudinal analyses were performed to examine the developmental pathway of positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA). Results: In contrast to Watson's early findings, our results indicate that the PA and NA scales are significantly negatively correlated cross-sectionally as well as longitudinally. Moreover, our findings indicate that children with high NA and low PA in the third grade display a worse prognosis than children who have either high NA or low PA. Conclusions: A new affect model is needed for describing children's mood status. In addition, an important implication of these findings is that the occurrence of comorbid mood status in children confers a high risk for later emotional problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-426
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2002


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Positive-negative affect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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